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Charmaine Coimbra
Lust! Gluttony! Greed! & Sloth! Oh Resolution!
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Continuing from yesterday’s post:

“I promise to forego lust, gluttony, greed and sloth this year…”

That quote is definitely not mine. But they are the final four of the seven deadly sins that build annual New Year’s resolutions lists. They are the corporal sins, or sins of the body.

Lust. Sex. Sex. Sex.

Do you feel better now? I do. Lust, however, I don’t think has to do with the actual act of sex, unless, it has to do with places sex does not belong. I refer here to those who don’t consent and those too young to understand. Predatory sex is a yuck factor.

One can lust for money and power. Sex is a sure element of both.

I don’t think I need to add less lust for personal betterment in 2015.

That said, I do intend to write about lusty subjects this coming year. So, yes, to lusty writing in 2015.

Gluttony. Is this year that I take on the real suffering of a continued ten-size-drop diet? Probably not. I’m no stranger to the diet. Sadly, fat is full of yesterday’s deadly sin, anger and wrath. “I’ll get you back for losing me!” Weight is the most vengeful beast I know.

Being a glutton for punishment (vengeful fat) is not good.

Greed. If the juicy, well photographed catalogs would quit visiting my mailbox, I’d experience less greed. Or is that consumerism? I’m graced with limited storage space (left) in my home. This forces me to walk away from the I want more and I want some of that syndrome. So, while greed makes brief appearances, it’s quickly vanquished by reality.

Seriously, this is an issue I wrestle with in a time when so many have so little. How do we find the balance of wanting convenient things (like computers, cameras, appliances, clothes, cars, etc.) when there is hunger on our streets? We can’t all be monks! And we can’t all be Carlos Slim or Bill Gates.

Okay, greed and finding it’s balance is a consideration.

Sloth. As one who writes, it’s easy to be slothful. Well, not exactly slothful. I’ll explain.

The burn to write (or any creative outlet) comes with many at birth. I’m one of those with-at-birth. It’s the agony and the ecstasy—more powerful than the best food, wine, or even sex. (Dang! Gluttony and lust rise again!) The agony of a blank screen or piece of paper awaiting a writer’s hand, sends me into Writer Slothland. Writer Slothland is how I get my house clean, the laundry folded, and weeds pulled from my garden. These tasks take precedence when a writing job must be completed, edited, rewritten, or even started.

Conversely, when I do face the screen and pull words from my head, the house does not get cleaned, laundry mountain grows like the garden weeds that then compete with the gophers for garden Armageddon.

This brings me right back to that 3rd grade nun I wrote about yesterday and the memorization of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Thinking upon these human faults, pride, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, greed and sloth, is enough to make one sip too many champagne-filled flutes on New Year’s Eve.

The word sin grows in antiquation. Social harm is the contemporary phrase for sin. When our actions bring harm to others, then it’s a “Houston, we have a problem here” situation. I might wish to have my friend’s beautiful ocean front home. That borders on envy, but I’m not going to take that home away from her (greed). All seven “sins” are interconnected with each other.

Through this essay-exploration of possible resolutions, I can now list my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions.

Instead of moderating the seven sins, I’m listing these seven words for self-improvement in 2015:

  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Courage
  • Mindfulness
  • Generosity
  • Diligence.

Cheers! And Happy New Year!

Barb DePree MD
Films to Fuel the Fire
Love & Sex
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When I read the results of a new study showing that couples who watch and then discuss movies about relationships could reduce the likelihood they would divorce, it occurred to me that watching movies that include sex scenes might have a similarly positive effect on one’s sex life.

Friend, it does, and the reason is simple. Sitting down and watching a movie together on any topic—be it global warming, relationships, or sex—creates mindshare for that topic. And when it comes to sex, once you’ve created mindshare, the rest often takes care of itself.

We’ve talked about movies before, and our difficulty in finding them. I’ve been pressed for time the last month or so, so I asked a friend for some recommendations to pass along. She did some research—and a lot of movie-watching—on our behalf and recommends these three movies—movies with real storylines, acting, cinematography, and sex scenes that spring organically from the plot—guaranteed to remind you and your significant other that each of you are not only a spouse, parent, child, employee, or committee chair, but also a lover.

Y Tu Mamá También (NR, subtitles)

Julio and Tenoch, teenage boys in Mexico, can’t believe their luck when Luisa, a (slightly) older woman, agrees on a whim to go on a road trip with them to find a beach. Carnal relations ensue, some more surprising than others, but so does self-awareness. If, at the outset, the movie feels like a MexicanAmerican Pie (the first sex scene occurs 20 seconds in, and the boys have a manifesto that includes “do whatever you feel like” and “don’t marry a virgin”), don’t be discouraged. It gets better. Luisa eventually tires of their immaturity and makes the rules, which the boys agree to follow. Her own manifesto includes “I pick the music,” “You cook,” and “You’re not allowed to contradict me.” Now that’s sexy! And there is a secondary storyline that hints at Mexico’s political and economic landscape seen from the car windows as the threesome cross the country. Sexy, funny, sad, and smart.

Sex and Lucía (NR, subtitles)

This movie had me at the premise: Lorenzo is a writer; Lucía is an avid fan. She tracks him down, says she loves him and his novel, and moves in with him that same night. “I always liked people who tell good stories,” she says. “I trust them.” But should she? Lorenzo has a complicated past, and he’s also writing another novel; in the movie, you can’t always tell whether a scene is real or one he’s writing for his novel. No matter. Just enjoy the ride, particularly during the sweet and explicit (yes, both!) photo shoot L&L do together at 28 minutes, and a sexy (Lucía’s) and funny (Lorenzo’s) strip tease a few minutes later. A person might pause the movie there and get down to business with the one you’re with. Later you can resume the film, which gets a good deal darker, and try to untangle fact from fiction over a nice glass of wine.

The Lover (NR)

French Indochina, 1929, is the setting for this story about forbidden love between a French teenager from a dysfunctional family and a wealthy Chinese man who is besotted with her—but betrothed to another. The plot unfolds in a leisurely fashion, giving the story time to build. Looks are exchanged and fingers are tentatively touched, before they give in, but oh, when they do (38 minutes in for about 10 minutes), it’s a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing thing. The lovers are doomed, of course, but until the day of reckoning, they escape their own pain and inflict (primarily emotional) pain on each other. As with Sex and Lucía, to avoid having the plot spoil the mood, pursue your own agenda whenever you’re ready (if not by the 54-minute mark, then certainly after).

In fact, that’s good advice for watching any of these movies. Act now (and now, and ohhh, now); discuss later. According to research, both are good for your relationship.

And we’re always happy to hear from you about movies that stoke your flames!


Flower Bear
Thanks For The Ripples
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Free Illustration Of Blue Water Ripple Stock Images - 7912444

Since everyone in the U.S. is focused on Thanksgiving this week, I’d like to add my thoughts on what I am grateful for. In particular, I want to express my gratitude for all those people who created a ripple, whether they knew it or not, that affected my life in ways I could never have imagined:

To my 6th grade teacher who gave me hundreds of punishment essays to write because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut only to discover the writer that I could be but couldn’t hear until I was able to sit still and listen.

To Professor McGonigal, a.k.a. Abba, who came into my life for only one day but who planted seeds that have lasted over 30 years when she told me: “You are seeking answers but you haven’t asked the right questions yet. Go out into the world and DO something.”

To both of my ex-husbands (saving this for another post) who taught me that I was strong enough to stand on my own two feet and that if I was looking for someone to ride in on a white horse to save me, I only had to look in the mirror to find her.

To my children who taught me how to be a parent, and to my grandchildren who helped me get even better at it.

To all of my beautiful animal companions, those still here and those who have moved on, who taught me the true meaning of loyalty, compassion and unconditional love.

.. and to the little girl inside me, the one who is  perpetually 5 years old, who never lets me stop looking for the magic and helps me to see it when it’s there.

Most of all, to all my beautiful Vibrant Nation sisters whose ripples touch me each and ever day. Keep ’em coming. Happy Thanksgiving.

And so it is.


Lisa Ricard Claro
Do You Believe in the Limits of Perfect?
Books & Entertainment
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The first round of edits arrived from my publisher for my romance novel, Love Built to Last, due for release in 2015. This is the first book in the “Fireflies” series, so I was excited to get the editing process underway. This first go-round was just grammar fixes on their end, but the acquisitions editor told me to make any and all changes I deemed necessary prior to sending it back for the second round of editing.

Piece of cake, I thought. After all, before ever submitting the manuscript, I revised, edited, revised, edited, revised, edited, ad nauseam for months. By the time I stuck a query letter in front of it, the damn thing was picture perfect.

Wait a second. Wait. Did I really think—? Did I really say—?


Oh, geez. Hold on a sec . . . *snort* *snuffle* . . . *wipes away tears of hilarity*

Hehehehehe. Ah . . . *sigh*

Photo courtesy of Drew Coffman via commons

Okay, okay. I’m back.

To my credit, the editor complimented my grammar skills, and her suggestions and changes were minimal. But perfect? PERFECT?  *palm to face*

When I opened the file I thought, “I spent so many hours editing and revising this thing, it’ll be a breeze to go through.”

Uh, yeah. Not so much. Because guess what? The learning never ends, and between completing the manuscript at the end of last year and opening the publisher’s editing document twelve months later, a few things have changed.

See, in that space of time I’ve done a lot of reading, have attended conference workshops, and talked to other authors. I’ve completed a second full novel and have begun a third. I’ve learned a ton of stuff in the last year, so opening that document and reading the manuscript—well, it was an eye opener. I saw everything I didn’t know when I wrote that book.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my novel and I’m proud of what I’ve written. I adore the characters and the story. But the simple truth is that no matter how much editing and revising I do, no manuscript will ever be perfect. It will only ever be “The Best of Me Right Now.” And that’s okay, because I figured out something super important: “Perfect” means there is a ceiling to the quality of our work, but without it, there are no limits! Dumping “perfect” gives us permission to light the fuse and just keep going up. This can apply to anyone, in any line of work. There will always be things to learn, always opportunities to get better at what we do, no matter what that is. That’s exciting!

You’ve come this far, so it’s only fair to give you an example of what I saw in my novel that required fixing. Here it is: My characters do a lot of squeezing. That’s right. Squeezing. Squeezing hands, squeezing arms, squeezing shoulders. See, in Lisa Land, squeezes are like sneezes: spontaneous and necessary. I am a squeezer in real life. Seriously. I squeeze so much I should come with a warning label. So it’s no wonder that I show my characters’ empathy, concern, appreciation, affection, by squeezing. Squeezing is good. Too much squeezing? Well, I made myself giggle when I went on a search and destroy mission and saw just how much squeezing I wrote into this book. I told my critique partner, and she said it was a good thing they weren’t picking their noses. Haha! (Maybe I’ll save the nose picking for a middle grade novel.)

What words, phrases, and/or actions do you see overused in books that you read? If you’re a writer, which are you guilty of? Do you believe in Perfect? Please leave a comment! I love to read your anecdotes and opinions.

Thanks for hanging out with me!



Flower Bear
Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop
Other Topics
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I’m sure we can all think back and remember those words of wisdom that our mothers shared with us on a regular basis. I’ve found that many of them are universal, like “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” or, “A watched pot never boils,” or my personal favorite, “Don’t stand there with the refrigerator door open – penguins are forming a line.”  There was one that my mother used, however, that always bothered me and, much to my surprise, the lesson that came with it has unknowingly stuck with me up to this day until recently.

Whenever something wonderful happened my mom would always caution us not to get too excited. She believed that a good thing was always followed by a bad thing that took the happiness out of the good thing. She said she was always, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” In essence, she was afraid to be happy because something always happened to take her happiness away. It wasn’t until I was much older and came to know the story of her past and her upbringing that I understood why she felt that way. Unfortunately, by that time the belief behind that saying was deeply implanted in my psyche. Whenever someone wonderful happened, or I achieved a goal or dream, inwardly I would always be afraid to be happy because I was sure the happiness wouldn’t last. It was as if happiness was for other people. I was one of the ones that was lucky to just get by .

The other day I was watching an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the  best seller Eat, Pray, Love. When Liz started talking about folks who were afraid to be happy, my inner radar beeped. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was one of those people. Here I was sitting in my new place, surrounded by nature at her best and the peace and quiet I had craved, and I was complaining because I had a case of writer’s block. I kept telling myself, “see, you complained for years that you wanted to move back home so you could write full time and now that you’re here, you’re still not happy.” It hadn’t occurred to me that I was in fact afraid to be happy. Now that I was finally “home,” I was waiting for something bad to happen … waiting for the other shoe to drop. Wow, what an eye opener.

I know that I will not be able to rid myself of this belief over night. After all, it has been  hiding in the back of my mind for 65 years. The good news is that now that I have found where it was hiding and have exposed it for the goblin that it is, I can work on embracing it and then letting it go. It won’t be easy. It takes something called faith, in myself and in The Universe, but as they say in AA, admitting you have a problem is half the battle. Giving this goblin a name will enable me to finally stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Note to self: run through life barefoot like a child who still believes in happily ever after. Then you won’t have any shoes to drop!

And so it is.